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Weebelos Woods Weekend - Bad!!

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  • Weebelos Woods Weekend - Bad!!

    I was looking for a scouting forum so I could talk with other leaders in scouting and look what I found. This looks like a great site. This is my 4th year in scouts as a Den Leader. So here is my weekend’s adventure.

    I took 8 of my Webelos on their first Webelos Woods campout. We had been invited by a local Boy Scout Troop to be their guest. The Troop said they were 100% boy led and the leaders only stepped in if it was a safety issue. We went to their Troop meeting so the Webelos could meet the Boy Scouts. I knew it was a little unorganized when it took over 20 minutes to just have the flag ceremony. The Webelos and Scouts met and planned their meals and all seemed to go very well. My leaders and I visited with the Troop Master and were told not to bring tents for the boys or any food. The Scouts would show the Webelos how to set up tents and cook and generally work with them the entire weekend.

    So we show up as directed Friday night at 6:30pm at the Scout house and the Scouts and Webelos start loading the trailer. Took about 2 hours. Totally unorganized and the leaders gave no direction or advice or input or anything. We finally get on the road and arrive at the camp around 10:30pm. The Scouts and Webelos start unloading the Troop trailer and then the personal equipment trailer. The Scouts start setting up tents and camp. Again, the scout leaders did nothing. After unloading the trailer my Webelos were not allowed to be involved in the camp setup. About 11:30 several of my Webelos came to me and said the Scouts said there were not enough tents and they did not have a tent to stay in. Other Webelos came up and said the patrol they were assigned to at the Troop meeting is now telling them they are not with them. I let this go on for a while and now my Webelos are getting upset. They are young boys, tired, hungry, and being told they don’t have a tent. At this point 2 of my assistants go to the equipment trailer and find two tents. We start setting the tents up. One is missing parts and the other one just doesn’t want to go up. The Troop leader then comes over and calls all adults to the pavilion where he tells us that he knows it is chaotic but this is a boy led troop and they need to do it himself. He and I then had some words. I told him his scouts were ignoring my Webelos, not helping them, telling them they were not in the patrols, and telling them they had no place to sleep. He told us he knew but it would all get worked out. Like I said, he and I had some heated words. Well we backed off and watched the scouts finish setting up camp and start getting ready for bed. Still no tents for my Webelos or interaction from the scouts. My leaders and I went back and set up their tents. It is probably 12:30 at night and several of my Webelos are so tired and hungry they are on the verge of tears. We finally have midnight snack at 12:45 and lights out about 1:30.

    Next morning I am thinking that it was a bad start and everything will be better. The camp cooks get up at 5:00 and are as loud as they can be. I am talking obnoxious loud. The troop in the next campsite actually complained. Anyway, I am thinking it will all get better. The boys are on one side of the pavilion and the adults are on the other. They don’t want the adults to go into the boys’ area. I respect that but I am checking on my boys who went to bed very upset. I go to check on my boys and make sure they are getting to eat and are ok. The Scouts are supposed to be showing the Webelos how to cook and generally mentoring them for the weekend. Nope…not happening. The Scouts are cooking and telling the Webelos they can’t help and go play somewhere. They did cook and feed the Webelos but did not let the Webelos hardly do anything. At one point two of my Webelos came to me and said they thought they were supposed to be helping cook and learning how to do this. I told them that plans had changed and they should just help when they were asked and otherwise play around. After every meal I went and checked on my Webelos and made sure everyone had gotten meal. I had one boy that said he had a hamburger and it was still raw and he did not eat it. I politely walked back to his patrol with him and nicely pointed out to the patrol leader that he still needed to eat and they cooked him another burger.

    There was a second Webelos group that was also visiting. During lunch on Saturday I walked up to parents of the other Webelos group and apologized for blowing up at the troop leader the night before. One mom looked at me at said you had every right to blow up and she was glad I did. Then she said she was about to go have a talk with the troop leader because her Webelos were not getting to do anything. The three other dads in the group said don’t worry about it, something needed to be said. That made me feel better in the sense that it was not just me getting frustrated.

    So we went to the other camp activities and the Webelos had a blast. Archery, BB, hatchet throwing, first aide, etc…We got to visit with several other troops and identified a few we want to go visit. Even got invited to go camping with two other Troops. Came back Saturday night and it was back into the stressful situation. One of my leaders said he felt more unwelcomed than a whore in church on Sunday morning. No one from the Troop that we were guest of ever came to talk to us or try to explain what was going on. One of my assistants said he had never felt so unwanted or unwelcomed. The troop leader’s answer to everything was that it was a boy led troop. So Sunday morning came and we got up at 6:00 and broke down camp. My parents and assistants hiked our equipment out and loaded it in two trucks we had. We went back and broke down our two Webelos tents, put them in the Troop trailer, made a sweep of our area and cleaned up everything. We went to flag ceremony and service and then the parents and leaders all agreed it was time to leave. The camp was supposed to be empty by 10:00 and I later learned it was close to 11:00 before the Troop pulled out.

    I went expecting it to be a friendly mentoring environment where the Scouts were interacting with the Webelos and the Webelos Leaders would have some interaction with the Troop leaders. There was very little interaction at all. The Webelos parents and leaders were pretty upset and aggravated about the entire trip. We shielded the boys and made sure they had a good time. As I visited the other troop I told them we were not real happy with our hosts. When they found what troop it was out they typically just made a face and said sorry and good luck with that. I later learned that the Troop used ot have a reputation for being too adult led and now it appears they went to the other extreme. Did I go in expecting too much or was it just a bad situation?

    Sorry for the long story…but it was a frustrating weekend to say the least.

  • #2
    One group will tell you "Great Troop, that's what you want !" Others will say "Run!" It is not clear to me what ended up happening with the tents for the Webelos. Did the Scouts fix it or the adults?


    • #3
      I'm sorry. If it's any consolation, I'll have my boys read this as a cautionary tale for when they invite Webelos to camp with them.

      On the flip side, you have a good idea of how that troop operates. I hope you and your boys will take up those invites and be able to make a fair comparison.


      • qwazse
        qwazse commented
        Editing a comment
        I gave this to the ASPL and said "You may want to read this at some point in the meeting." After looking it over, the poor boy (a soft-hearted fellow) was mortified because he thought it was an E-mail I received about our troop! (Why he would thing this when we haven't had an entire den of Webelos on a weekend with us for years, is beyond me.) He was quite relieved when I explained it was about someone else far away in internet land.

        One very important sign of proper training, IMHO, is if the SPL and other older boys take time to introduce themselves to the parents and check in on them on a regular basis.

    • #4
      King Kong Dong - As asked, we stepped back and waited on the scouts to help the webelos put up the tent. After a little time it was obvious that was not happening and our boys were exhausted and ready for bed. Three of us adults went over and put up the tents for them. When we broke down their tents on Sunday we made all the webelos help.

      qwazse - You are so right!!! We went on the camp out to see how the troop operates and realized we would not be a fit for how they run things. We have two other invites to go camping and we will definitely be visiting several more troops.


      • qwazse
        qwazse commented
        Editing a comment
        Just so you know, in general I have seen very few troops that excel at nighttime insertions. Younger scouts are not particularly good at following patrol leader's direction in the dark. If this troop is new to the boy-led approach, older boys can be resentful of the responsibility foisted on them. As a result everyone is less attentive to everyone else's needs.

        Keep an open mind. For some families, this may still be the troop for them.

      • King Ding Dong
        King Ding Dong commented
        Editing a comment
        Don't just visit campouts, visit troop meetings also. Most troops will not mind if you show up unannounced. You don't want to show up for a "show".

        What is the age distribution of the troop ? Are there any boys over 14 ? There were in my current troop for the joint campout, never seen them since.

    • #5
      On the one hand it is usually a shock to visit a boy-run Troop for the first time. On the other hand if your boys were not having fun that is a red flag. I visited some "Lord of the Flies" Troops and most of the boys had a good time being fellow savages.

      2 Hours loading sounds pretty pitiful.

      Chalk it up to the variety of Troop cultures and keep "shopping". Really the goal is to expose the boys to enough Troops that they can find the right fit.


      • #6
        I'm sorry you had a bad experience with boy-led on the one hand and impressed with adult-led on the other.

        But store it away in the back of your mind, it's a double-bit axe. Cuts both ways.

        On the one hand, your boy will have a great time in scouting going with an adult-led program. All the good stuff will right there ready to go and very little hitches along the way.

        On the other hand, your boy will be expected to step up to the plate and deliver a program that he's way in over his head to handle.

        So what you need to do is decide along with your son, which is more important, the journey or the destination?

        So what I have is one boy in a newly forming troop that was a webelos cross over last April. Last night he learned how to make rope and whip the ends. He and I made the first rope, and then he taught his mom and dad how to do it. Why? Because next week we have 12 Webelos scouts coming along with their parents to visit the troop. My lone scout at age 11 is going to handle the evening. I am his assistant.

        Do I see crash and burn coming down the pike? Yep! But so do his mom and dad, but my boy is totally committed to the journey. So will he get help? Yep, from me who taught him and two more (mom and dad) who he taught.

        He showed up for last night's meeting with his new belt and scout socks he got off of Ebay last week. Made a special point to let me know he now has the full uniform. He said he was really happy the stuff from Ebay came in on time so he'd be in full uniform for when the Webelos boys show up.

        Do I have an exceptional boy here? No, because both mom and dad told me separately in private how much they have seen him "come out of his shell" in just the past few months.

        For me, it's the journey!



        • perdidochas
          perdidochas commented
          Editing a comment
          Gotta trust the boys, even if they crash and burn. Sounds like the above scout is learning what I would want Scouts to know.

      • #7
        I don't think I want an adult led troop but I don't wont a boy led Troup as unorganized as that one. I think a boy led Troop with minimal adult coaching is what my parents are looking for. For example, we visited the camp site of another troop this weekend. While visiting one of the leaders came up and pointed out to the Troop Leader that it was 7:45 and said shouldn't they start loading the trailer. The Troop leader said yes and the leader went to the patrol leaders and told them as soon as they were done with breakfast they needed to start loading. The adults were not dictating, they were not doing it, but they were monitoring and giving a nudge or reminder when needed. I think that is the system I am looking for.

        I know there are many different thought and methods on this...and that is why we will visit more troops.


        • perdidochas
          perdidochas commented
          Editing a comment
          There are different levels and effectiveness of boy led troops. We are close to the above, rather than the troop you mentioned first. Not as boy led as i would like, but is better than boy led into the ground.

        • jblake47
          jblake47 commented
          Editing a comment
          You are correct on boy-led/adult-led variances. As a matter of fact ALL troops fit somewhere on a sliding scale between the two extremes. There is no truly boy-led programs, nor are there purely adult-led programs.

          It is best to find one where you feel comfortable with for your boy. Does the program help him grow? Does it offer him challenging opportunities? How much adult involvement is too much and how much is not enough.

          If you have multiple options, that's great, then you can pick either the lesser of two evils or the better of two opportunities.

          Some locations don't have that option. In that case, nothing says you can't pitch in and work on what you think is best for the troop just like any other adult already there.

          As you can see in my post above, not everything is going to be perfect for any situation. Maybe all 12 Webelos boys will think this new troop is way to immature in it's history, but maybe others will see it as a golden opportunity to have a troop that they can create from scratch.

          Right now I'm heavy duty into hands on by the adults (me and parents), but the boy also has been handed an opportunity that a lot of 15 year-olds never get, too. There are 3 packs that may visit. Next pack might get a better deal, and if all fails, next year maybe those boys will see something they want in this kind of a program. How many troops would trust a newly crossed over first year scout to handle the program for visiting Webelos? I don't have any other option, but I'm still feeling really good about what's going to happen next week. Maybe the Webelos parents won't, but they have other options.

          Good luck with your search.


        • Eagledad
          Eagledad commented
          Editing a comment
          TB, you ran into the interpretation differences with the "training" part of "Train-them, Trust-them and let-them-go". There are certainly a lot of different opinions with the group here. I'm not sure you can find the right answer on this forum because the "trust" part with the adults changes with experience. Many here feel a parent asking a lot of questions about a troop program edges into helicpoter parenting, others think it's just responsible parenting. It's important to understand that the BSA looses more boys from the program at this time of scouting than any other age group because boys coming from the Cub ages have very little experience with independence and suddenly find themselves drowning with independence in the troop program. It is terrifying for them to say the least. There is a line between building confidence to step forward into the unknown, and fear of the unknown. Training is that difference. I think the troop you visited hasn't yet matured to understanding the difference. You as a responsible parent that needs to feel comfortable about the choice of troop you pick. Ask a few questions. What is your ultimate goal for my son? Is this troop boy run and what does that mean? Do you have a new scout program? Personally, I think the overall quality of a troop is reflective in the quality of the older scouts program. So ask about the older scout program. How many scouts 14 and older. And ask to observe the older scouts in action. They should be leading the younger ones. However, like humans, each troop has it's own unique personality. You need to learn enough to understand the personality. Visit the good troops at least twice in different scenarios like camping and meetings. Maybe even three times. Always talk to the SPL and ask him what he thinks will happen to your son if he joins. Aways an interesting discussion. I wish you luck, we were so frustrated by our choices that we started our own troop. I wouldn't wish that on anyone. I also wouldn't do it any other way if I had the choice to do it over again. Scouitng is hard, but it is very rewarding. Barry

      • #8
        TB, My son and I are in the process of deciding if we want to switch troops. There are certainly lots of things to consider and the decision is not easy. The thread I started has a lot of excellent suggestions from forum members and great questions to ask and consider. If you have time you you should read through it.


        • #9
          I feel your pain. We were invited to camp with one troop. Fri night the Webelos wound up arriving before the boy scout troop and had no idea where to set up. We had our own tents and set them up when finally told where to go which wound up being at the far end of the area from where the boyscouts set up so we were kind of by ourselves.Troop leaders did introduce themselves. Sat morning breakfast was to be at 8:30 and we showed up at 8:30, but the boy led cooking team didn't serve breakfast until 10:00. By then the kids were famished. When it was time they said ok, Webelos go first and get your food and that was all that was said. Well they went up to the buffet and grabbed food, I was behind my son and when I saw the amount of food they had, I had to hold him back from taking what he would normally eat and we went back to the table. Then when the food ran out older scouts from the troop came over and yelled at them for taking too much food. After the food was gone they brough out cereal for those that didn't eat enough. My son went for cereal and they were out of mill (keep in mind the know how many people are coming weeks before the event) Then there was supposed to be a flag ceremony, it never happened and an American flag never flew the entire weekend. There were supposed to be stations for the scouts to go to, but they wound up playing games for almost all of Sat morning so much that there wasn't enough time in the rest of the day to get through the acitivites. On a good note, the Sat night dinner and campfire program was done well.
          We are now invited to visit another troop and camp. That troop had us visit early, split our webelos into two patrols and put two older boy scouts as their patrol leaders. They all planned a menu and a duty roster together. Then were told that they can use troop tents and the senior scouts will put the tents up for them since it will be dark when they get to camp. I'll give a report back after the event. Our guys came out of the meeting visit liking what they had seen and heard.


          • #10
            boy led vs adult led is one thing. But it sounds like the boy scouts treated the cub scouts poorly this would be my biggest concern. The troop camp out that we attended was scout led but I think that the adults helped focus the planning. Obviously we did not get to see the planning that went into it. But the troop led the webelos through every aspect of the outdoorsmans activity badge. It was more thought out than what I have seen with district summer camps. You could tell that the older boy scouts understood the reason they were there is for recruitment and helping the webelos get their outdoorsmans. This is where I think the adults explained the purpose of the gather to them and then let them execute. The SPL was very mature.

            The only real issues was that nothing started on time and everything took longer than expected. But that is part of being scout led.


            • #11
              sorry you had a bad experience. Visit multiple troops both meetings and campouts.

              You mentioned the adult kept saying it's boy-led, but in what you wrote I didn't actually read any form of leading. There is adult-run, boy-run, and un-lead where they say it's boy-led but none of the boys are doing any leading they're just doing and those are totally different.

              Was their a scout or maybe a couple that was instructing the other scouts what to take and put in the trailer? This should be the job of the quartermaster

              Was there a scout that was gathering other boys together and assigning tasks and over seeing and helping them out? This would be the SPL for whole troop or PL for just the patorl

              Our troop - webelos visiting normally do tent with their parent and depending on the number we might need extra tents for that arrangement. We do this because we do want the parents to see camping as well. If it's a full den that has our den chief they would be either be their own patrol for a campout with their chief and a guide or instructor assisting... or else split evenly among the patrols. They would be given jobs just as an patrol member dishes, assistant cook, etc, but with the patrol leader and assistant (or the chief and a guide/instructor) explaining, quick showing, and then over-seeing them.

              The cub parents are with the adult troop members. We will discuss how things are done with the troop: patrols, positions, rank advancement, merit badges, past camp locations, future camp locations, how meeting activities are planned and scheduled out, service projects we do yearly, other service projects we previously have done, and future service projects planned. We answer all questions they have the best we can. We discuss behavior expectations and consequences. But at bed the cubs sleep with their parent.

              Now that being said we have had only a couple come and they tented in 1 tent with their parents in another, but prior the boys told them the lights out rule... which is boys go to bed after our evening campfire and snack which is closed with chaplain aid's prayer and taps if we have instrument player (yes even have had it on guitar and even once a phone app LOL), adults have a little adult time by the fire while the boys start to settle, I go to the bathroom, when I return I say "good night boys" and that means it's quiet time. That said that can be harder when you are at a camporee where they put troops closer together and another troop doesn't follow quite time given by hosting group.

              Latest we have ever arrived, set-up, and gone to bed was I think 9:30pm arrival with 11pm quiet and those are the long distant trips which normally we don't have a webelos visit on. It has never taken our troop that long to load, unload, set-up that's just insane.

              And even with boy-led there is a point where adult leadership has a job in sitting down with youth leaders and doing the "what went good? what would you do differently and how?" and if needed make some suggestions. SPL always rides with me (SM) (plus other boys youth protection is followed) on the way it's "so what is planned and how do you plan on making that happen?" on the way home it's the questions I just mentioned. I like doing it right away so it's all fresh in his mind.